Coghlan, Bailey named Rookies of the Year

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This morning I laid out my Rookie of the Year picks, choosing A’s reliever Andrew Bailey in the American League and Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen in the National League.
This afternoon the Baseball Writers Association of America announced their actual selections, agreeing with me on Bailey for the AL award while going with Marlins left fielder Chris Coghlan for the NL honor.
I’m certainly not surprised that the BBWAA tabbed Coghlan, whom I placed third behind McCutchen and Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ. Coghlan led all NL rookies in playing time by logging 565 plate appearances in 128 games, had a .321 batting average, and hit exceptionally well over the final two months.
Ultimately lots of playing time, a big batting average, and a prolonged hot stretch are more than enough to get the BBWAA’s votes, because my guess is that not many of the 32 writers who cast ballots cared that Coghlan beat McCutchen by only 14 points of OPS or spent a lot of time factoring in Coghlan’s poor defense in left field compared to McCutchen’s good defense in center field, let alone making positional adjustments for their offensive production.
Remember, one BBWAA member who covers the Marlins repeatedly described Coghlan’s rookie season (which included a relatively modest .850 OPS, nine homers, and just 47 RBIs) as “historic” and last year Edinson Volquez received three second-place votes in the Rookie of the Year balloting when he wasn’t even eligible for the award. Baseball analysis has come a long way in recent years, but for 32 beat reporters casting ballots batting averages and headlines still carry the day.

Chris Archer on joining Bruce Maxwell’s protest: “I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me at this time.”

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Rays pitcher Chris Archer doesn’t see himself joining Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest any time soon, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports. Archer said, “From the feedback that I’ve gotten from my teammates, I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me, at this time. I agree with the message. I believe in equality.”

Archer continued, “I don’t want to offend anybody. No matter how you explain it or justify it, some people just can’t get past the military element of it and it’s not something I want to do, is ruffle my teammates’ feathers on my personal views that have nothing to do with baseball.”

Archer did express admiration for the way Maxwell handled his situation. The right-hander said, “The way he went about it was totally, I think, as respectful as possible, just letting everybody know that this doesn’t have anything to do with the military, first and foremost, noting that he has family members that are in the military. It’s a little bit tougher for baseball players to make that leap, but I think he was the right person to do it.”

Maxwell recently became the first baseball player to kneel as the national anthem was sung, a method of protest popularized by quarterback Colin Kaepernick. As Craig explained yesterday, baseball’s hierarchical culture has proven to be a strong deterrent for players to express their unpopular opinions. We can certainly see that in Archer’s justification. Archer was one of 62 African Americans on the Opening Day roster across 30 major league clubs (750 total players, 8.3%).

Major League Baseball issues a statement on Trump’s latest travel ban order

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Last night the Trump Administration announced a new batch of restrictions on people traveling from foreign countries, following up on its previous travel ban on persons from six predominately Muslim countries. The latest restriction could potentially touch on Major League Baseball, however, as it includes Venezuela.

The restriction for Venezuela is far narrower than the others, only blocking visas for government officials on business or tourist travel from Venezuela. There has been considerable uncertainty about the scope and enforcement mechanisms for the previous travel ban, however, and the entire matter is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. With that uncertainty, many around Major League Baseball have asked how and if the league or the union might respond to an order that, while seemingly not facially impacting baseball personnel or their families, could impact them in practice.

To that end, Major League Baseball issued a statement this afternoon, saying “MLB is aware of the travel ban that involves Venezuela and we have contacted the appropriate government officials to confirm that it will not have an effect on our players traveling to the U.S.” It is not clear whether it has, in fact, received such confirmation or if its an ongoing dialog or what.

Again: the ban shouldn’t impact baseball players or their families based on its terms. But based on what we saw with the enforcement of the previous one — and based the unexpected consequences many major leaguers faced when international travel restrictions were tightened following the 9/11 attacks — it’s only prudent for Major League Baseball to make such inquiries and get whatever assurances it can well in advance of next February when players from Venezuela will be coming back to the United States for spring training.